Sunday, February 20, 2011

Amtrak Train Slices Car In Half - Life Journey Abruptly Comes to End

"Young man killed as train hits car."

At 1:30 a.m., when Jason Garza (25) approached the railroad tracks, red lights flashed and the train-crossing barrier lowered in front of him. He stopped his Honda, but then decided to go around the barrier. When his car reached the tracks, the Amtrak train hit him at full-speed, slicing his car in half and killing him instantly.

The story won't make the annual Darwin Awards. These accidents are a common occurrence. This is the second such incident reported in the news this past week. I've written about the horrors of traffic before...

This particular incident is a strange thing to think about. In one moment, here is Mr. Garza, a living breathing person on the leading edge of his unique life journey, tooling along in the wee hours of the morning. And in the next moment, nothing. End of journey, end of story. Except for the poor family members and friends of Garza who will mourn him.

Of course the report did not say, but one wonders if his decision to maneuver his car around the train-crossing barrier was his first such error of judgment. Was he a habitual risk-taker? Drunk? Inadequate cause-and-effect judgment skills in the pre-frontal cortex? I wonder about these things, but of course such details are never included in newspaper reports.

But this thought was included by reporter Guillermo X. Garcia: "It was not clear if he knew how fast the passenger train was moving." Of course it's not clear. How could anyone know if he knew that? Why state the obvious? It's like saying, "The moon was apparently still in orbit around the Earth at the time of the accident." Don't editors check these stories before publishing them?

At this time of the morning, alcohol may have been a factor. But these days when I hear about tragedies involving errors in judgment, I wonder what kind of critical thinking and self-management skills were established during the years of a young person's teen years. At this point in our cultural history, practically no one is aware of the crucial brain development phase that's going on in an adolescent's brain. By the time a person reaches Jason Garza's age, the window of opportunity for laying down the foundation for critical thinking is closed.

What Jason's teen journey was like will remain a mystery. He's no longer around to tell us about it.

Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2010. Building Personal Strength . (Permission to use photo purchased from


Anonymous said...

Our prayers are with the family of this young man. Our children got to meet this young man and are sadden to hear what to him. We are so sorry to hear the lost of this young man life.

Anonymous said...

Jason was a childhood friend of mine...The news of his death nearly brought me to my knees. They don't make men like Jason anymore. He would walk into a room and brighten it up with his contagious laugh and smile. I was suppose to meet up with him soon to catch up about the "good old days" but, now all i have our the pictures we took in high school... This world lost a great man on Saturday but we gained an angel above.. He will forever be missed and never forgotten! RIP my sweet angel Jason, until we meet in Heaven..

Anonymous said...

Denny, I think what the reporter was trying to say was he wonders if the young man committed suicide or only thought he could beat the train. Either way, you are outraged by his death.